Cloud Storage of Personal Data: Your Business’ Data Protection Obligations

Last updated on January 28, 2024

Featured image for the "Cloud Storage of Personal Data: Your Business' Data Protection Obligations" article. It features connected servers in front of an image of a cloud.

There are many benefits of cloud storage, including the ease of accessibility to data and the ability to remotely back data up. It is no wonder that businesses are increasingly looking to store their data in the cloud.

And now, you’re considering doing the same for your business.

As many cloud service providers have their servers located outside of Singapore, storing your business’ data in the cloud will likely require you to transfer your data overseas. However you have to be sure that the transfer complies with Singapore’s data protection laws under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

Is the Data I Want to Transfer Subject to the PDPA’s Protections?

The PDPA protects “personal data”, which includes data about individuals who can be identified from such data (whether such data is true or not).

Therefore so long as the data you possess about individuals allows them to be identified from such data, that data will be considered “personal data” that is subject to the PDPA’s protections. Examples of such data include the NRIC numbers and/or addresses of your customers.

Restrictions on the Transfer of Personal Data Overseas

After determining which of your data constitutes “personal data”, you will then have to know the restrictions to be complied with when transferring personal data overseas.

Before transferring personal data overseas, you have to:

  1. Take appropriate steps to ensure that you will handle the transferred data in accordance with the PDPA’s data protection laws, while this data is still in your possession/under your control; and
  2. Take appropriate steps to check whether, and ensure that, the cloud service provider is bound by legally enforceable obligations to provide the transferred data a standard of protection that is at least comparable to the PDPA’s protections.

Requirement to take appropriate steps to ensure that you will handle the transferred data in accordance with the PDPA’s data protection laws, while this data is still in your possession/under your control

You will be taken to have fulfilled this requirement if any one of the following conditions are met:

  • The individual, who is the subject of the personal data, consents to the transfer of personal data; (Read our other article for more information on the consent requirements under the PDPA.)
  • The transfer is necessary for you to perform a contract with the individual, or to do anything the individual asked you to do with the view of entering into a contract with him;
  • The transfer is necessary to conclude or perform a contract which the individual asked you to enter with a third-party;
  • The transfer is necessary to conclude or perform a contract you entered with a third-party, if a reasonable person would consider the contract to be in the individual’s interest; or
  • The personal data is publicly available in Singapore.

Requirement to take appropriate steps to check whether, and ensure that, the cloud service provider is bound by legally enforceable obligations to provide the transferred data a standard of protection that is at least comparable to the PDPA’s protections

“Legally enforceable obligations” include obligations imposed on the recipient of personal data under:

  • Any law;
  • Any contract that specifies the countries/territories that the personal data may be transferred to, and requires the recipient of the transferred personal data to provide a standard of protection for the data at least comparable to the protection under the PDPA;
  • Any binding corporate rules; or
  • Any other legally binding instrument.

Practically speaking, you can ensure that the cloud service provider only transfers data to locations with comparable data protection regimes.

If you are using a contract to impose such obligations on the recipient, the clauses in the contract should minimally include the protections for personal data:

  • Purpose of collection, use and disclosure by recipient
  • Accuracy
  • Protection
  • Retention limitation
  • Policies on personal data protection
  • Access
  • Correction
  • Overseas location where data is stored

More information on these protections may be found in the PDPA.

The Personal Data Protection Commission, which administers and enforces the PDPA, has provided the following example on how a business may comply with the PDPA when intending to transfer personal data overseas:

“Cedric is a client of Organisation GHI. Organisation GHI notifies Cedric in writing that it is adopting a cloud-based solution to store and analyse its client data, which includes personal data such as clients’ identification details, address, contact details and income range, and asks for Cedric’s consent to move his client data to the cloud-based solution. Organisation GHI also provides Cedric with a written summary of the extent to which Cedric’s personal data will be protected to a standard comparable to that under the PDPA, in the countries and territories that it will be transferred to. Should Cedric provide his consent, Organisation GHI would be able to transfer his personal data in compliance with the Transfer Limitation Obligation.”

Cloud Security Standards

Cloud service providers based in Singapore have to meet standards of protection under the Data Protection Provisions when they process personal data as data intermediaries. They should provide assurance of ability to comply with the PDPA through industry standards like ISO27001 and Tier 3 of the Multi-Tiered Cloud Security Certification (MTCS) Scheme.

Where the cloud service provider is not storing the data in Singapore, it should provide assurances that the data centres to which it sends the personal data comply with these standards.

If you require legal advice on your business’ legal obligations when storing personal data in the cloud, feel free to get in touch with one of our data protection lawyers.

Appointment and Removal of Company Officers and Other Key Personnel
  1. What is a Nominee Director & How to Appoint One in Singapore (With FAQs)
  2. Independent Directors: Who are They and What is Their Role?
  3. Board of Advisors: Who Are They and What Is Their Role?
  4. Appointing Company Directors in Singapore: Eligibility, Process etc.
  5. Managing Director vs CEO in Singapore: Roles and Obligations
  6. Guide to Directors' Remuneration in Singapore
  7. Directors' Duties in Singapore
  8. Shadow Directors: Who are They and What Duties Do They Owe to the Company?
  9. How to Remove a Director from a Company in Singapore
  10. Removal and Resignation of Company Auditor in Singapore
  11. Appointing a Company Secretary: Roles and Responsibilities
  12. Appointing an Authorised Representative for Foreign Companies in Singapore
  13. Process Agents in Singapore
Holding Meetings
  1. What are Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in Singapore?
  2. How to Hold Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs) in Singapore
  3. How to Hold a Board Meeting in Singapore
Shareholder Matters
  1. Share Buybacks in Singapore: Procedure, Cost and More
  2. How to Split Shares (or Stocks) in a Singapore Company
  3. 2 Ways to Remove a Singapore Company Shareholder ASAP
  4. What are Treasury Shares? Guide for Singapore Companies
  5. A Guide to Paid-Up Capital in Singapore
  6. Preparing a Register of Shareholders for a Singapore Company
  7. How to Issue Shares in a Singapore Private Company
  8. Guide to Transferring Shares in a Singapore Private Company
  9. Your Guide to Share Certificates in Singapore: Usage and How to Prepare
  10. Shareholder Rights in Singapore Private Companies
  11. Shareholder Roles and Obligations in Singapore Companies
  12. Dividend Payments Guide for Singapore Business Owners
  13. Share Transmission: What Happens If a Shareholder Dies in Singapore?
  14. How to Reduce the Share Capital of Your Singapore Company
  15. Buy-Sell Agreements: How to Write & Fund Them in Singapore
  16. Oppression of Minority Shareholders
  1. Is Your Business Collaboration Competition Law-Compliant?
  2. Explained: Registered Filing Agent for Singapore Businesses
  3. Transfer Pricing Obligations of Singapore Companies
  4. Adhering to Trading Sanctions and Restrictions in Singapore
  5. Cyber Hygiene Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
  6. Corporate Social Responsibility For Businesses in Singapore
  7. A Guide to Food Standards in Singapore
  8. Essential Regulatory Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
  9. Dormant Companies and Their Filing Obligations in Singapore
  10. Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and Your Business: What You Need to Know
  11. Price-Fixing, Bid-Rigging and Other Anti-Competitive Practices to Avoid
  12. Can Singapore Businesses Legally Conduct Lucky Draws?
  13. Restaurant Inspection and Food Safety Rules in Singapore
Company Management
  1. Does Your Company Need a Legal Team (In-House Counsel)?
  2. Acqui-Hiring of Singapore Companies: How Does It Work?
  3. Can a Company Director Take Legal Action Against Another Director?
  4. How to Change the Name of Your Singapore Company
  5. Can Directors be Liable for Company Debts in Singapore?
  6. Company Loans to Directors/Shareholders in Singapore
  7. 3 Types of Insurance Every Singapore Business Needs
  8. Creating and Registering Charges in Singapore: Guide for Companies
  9. Guide to Effective Business Continuity Planning in Singapore
  10. Business Asset Sale & Disposal in Singapore: How Do They Work?
  11. 5 Ways To Resolve Business Partnership Disputes in Singapore
  12. How to Commence a Derivative Action on Behalf of a Company in Singapore
  13. Business Will: How to Pass on Your Business to Your Successors in Singapore
Company Documents
  1. Record-Keeping Requirements for Singapore Companies
  2. Company Constitutions in Singapore and How to Draft One
  3. Company Memorandum and Articles of Association
  4. Company Resolutions: What are They?
  5. Board Resolutions in Singapore
  6. Minutes of Company Meeting in Singapore: How to Record
  7. How to Set Up a Register of Controllers
  8. How to Set Up a Register of Nominee Directors
  9. Guide to Filing Financial Statements for Singapore Business Owners
  10. Filing Annual Returns For Your Business
Tax, Accounting and Audit Matters
  1. Carbon Tax in Singapore: What is the Rate and Who Must Pay?
  2. Laws and Penalties for GST Evasion in Singapore
  3. 6 Common Taxes in Singapore For Individuals & Businesses
  4. Singapore Corporate Tax: How to Pay, Tax Rate, Exemptions
  5. Start-Up Tax Exemption Guide for New Singapore Companies
  6. GST Registration: Requirements and Procedure in Singapore
  7. What is Withholding Tax and When to Pay It in Singapore
  8. Singapore Influencers: Here's How to Calculate Your Income Tax
  9. Investigating Tax-Evading Business Owners in Singapore
  10. Small Business Accounting Services in Singapore
  11. Company Audits in Singapore: Requirements and Exemptions
Data Protection
  1. Suspect a PDPA Data Breach? Here's What to Do Next
  2. Must You Notify PDPC About a Data Breach in Your Business?
  3. Data Room: Should Your Singapore Company Set Up One?
  4. Victim of a Data Breach? Here’s What You Can Do
  5. Summary: Your Organisation's 10 Main PDPA Obligations
  6. Essential PDPA Compliance Guide for Singapore Businesses
  7. PDPA Consent Requirements: How Can Your Business Comply?
  8. Is It Legal for Businesses to Ask for Your NRIC in Singapore?
  9. How To Prevent Unauthorised Disclosure When Processing and Sending Personal Data
  10. Cloud Storage of Personal Data: Your Business’ Data Protection Obligations
  11. Drafting a Comprehensive Privacy Policy For Your Singapore Website
  12. GDPR Compliance in Singapore: Is it Required and How to Comply
  13. Appointing a Data Protection Officer For Your Business: All You Need to Know
  14. How Can Companies Dispose of Documents Containing Personal Data?
  15. Check the Do-Not-Call Registry Before Marketing to Singapore Phone Numbers
  16. How to Legally Install CCTVs for Home/Business Use in Singapore
  17. Is Web Scraping or Crawling Legal in Singapore?
  18. Legal Options If Employees Breach Confidentiality in Singapore
  1. Social Media Marketing: Legal Guide for Singapore Businesses
  2. Your Guide to E-commerce Website Terms of Service in Singapore
  3. Dealing with Defamation of Your Business: Can You Sue?
  4. Sending Email Newsletters That Comply With Singapore Law
  5. A legal guide to drafting a social media policy for your company
  6. Your Guide to a Media Release Form in Singapore
  7. Your Guide to an Influencer Marketing Agreement in Singapore
  8. Outdoor Advertising: How to Legally Display Public Ads in Singapore
Fintech and Payment Services Advisory
  1. A Guide to Digital Bank Regulation in Singapore
  2. Applying for a Major Payment Institution Licence in Singapore
  3. Applying to the MAS FinTech Regulatory Sandbox
  4. Payment Services Act Licensing Guide for Fintech Businesses
  5. How to Get a Payment Service Provider Licence in Singapore
  6. Financial Adviser's Licence Guide for Singapore Businesses
  7. Capital Markets (CMS) Licence Requirements in Singapore
  8. How to Offer E-Wallet Services in Singapore: Licensing Guide
  9. Digital Payment Token Services Licence Guide in Singapore
  10. How to Legally Offer Crypto Services in Singapore
  1. Starting a Franchise in Singapore: What Franchisors Should Look Out For
  2. Running a Franchise in Singapore: What To Look Out for as a Franchisee
Debt Restructuring
  1. What is Judicial Management and How It Works in Singapore
  2. Schemes of Arrangement: How They Work and How to Apply
  3. Informal Debt Restructuring and Workout in Singapore
Ending a Business
  1. How to Restore a Struck-Off Company in Singapore
  2. Claw-Back of Assets From Unfair Preference and Undervalued Transactions
  3. Should You Save or Close Your Zombie Company in Singapore?
  4. Voluntary Suspension of Business in Singapore: How to Handle
  5. Winding Up a Singapore Company: Grounds and Procedure
  6. Closing Your Singapore Business: What You Need to Settle
  7. Striking Off a Company
  8. Restoring a Company That was Struck Off Without You Knowing
  9. Dissolution of partnerships in Singapore
  10. What Should a Creditor Do When a Company Becomes Insolvent?
  11. How to File a Proof of Debt Against a Company in Liquidation
  12. Validation of Payments Made by Companies Being Wound Up